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Monday, May 5, 2014

Welcome To Foxborough (Other Will Smith Voice)

The Patriots made a very Patriots move this afternoon, signing veteran defensive end Will Smith to a deal (terms weren't disclosed). The former Saint and first-round pick in 2004 (18th overall out of Ohio State) played all 10 of his NFL seasons with the Saints (winning a Super Bowl in 2010) and racking up 8.5 sacks three times including a career-high 13 in 2009. So why was one of their best players in franchise history available in early May? He's coming off a torn ACL suffered last preseason that forced him to miss all of 2013.

We've seen this story before: New England signs a washed up defensive end (think Shaun Ellis) who put together a nice NFL career before he comes to the Pats and does basically nothing. All we can hope is that it's a different story with Smith who turns 33 on July 4. The Patriots certainly could use another pass rusher to go with Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich who are both very good players in their own right but understandably were worn down by the end of the season after playing over 95% of the defensive snaps.

Smith is fourth in Saints history with 67.5 career sacks. Along with that, he's piled up 320 solo tackles, 133 assists, forced 20 fumbles, recovered seven fumbles, made two interceptions (haha really?) and deflected 25 passes. You can't say that he's injury prone since he played 14+ games including 16 six times before 2013. In 2012, he played in all 16 games and had 58 combined tackles with six sacks and one fumble recovered.

As you can almost always conclude with most free agent moves by the Patriots, this is a low-risk and high-reward signing by them. Smith is a winner-a defensive captain with the Saints-and a big guy (6-foot-3, 282 pounds) so there is plenty to like about seeing him in a Patriots uniform this summer.

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